Tracsport – Hooked On The New Classic Races

Tracsport has been a welcome new addition to sportscar racing this season. Since joining in the LMES fun from the Nurburgring onwards, with the ex-Stanley Dickens Lola B2K/40, the team has been very much in the hunt in the LMP2 class battle.

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The all British (and two thirds Scottish) driver squad is all new to endurance racing, with Scots John Ingram (former British F3 race winner - above) and ex-Caterham and Clio racer John Gaw, plus Rick Pearson - Gaw on the left, below, Pearson in the Lola.

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The Renault route was what drew Rick Pearson into sportscars too, after cutting his teeth on Caterhams and in the Super Coupe Cup. After racing in the Clio 2 litre category he graduated to the Europe-wide Clio V6 championship and when that series was canned by the Regie, was left with a relatively fresh race ready car with nowhere to run it.

The answer to his problem was provided initially by Atlanta Motorsport, who saw the opportunity to campaign the car in the new Cup class of the British GT Championship. Pearson himself raced the car at the Knockhill double header in 2003 and intended at first to compete in 2004 in the Caterham R400s which support the British F3 / GT package, but dissatisfaction with the cars and the competition gave Pearson itchy feet.

The deal to sell the car to Atlanta involved the services of John Ingram Snr., and discussions soon started on the next project

With Le Mans legend Dudley Wood aboard as team manager, Tracsport initially looked at a GT programme, and travelled out to the Monza LMES race to see a car which Ian Khan had for sale - but simultaneously took the opportunity to get some advice from others on the grid. With the ultimate aim being to get to the big one - Le Mans - it became obvious very early on that running a Porsche, even a very good Porsche, wouldn’t hack it, and to have any chance at all the budget would be phenomenal: Porsche parts can be very expensive.

“At Monza the LMP2 class was a bit of a calamity, and it seemed sensible for us to look at the options that this class would present to us,” explains Rick Pearson. “There were the two guaranteed entries on offer for the top two class finishers in the LMES. Dudley has a long relationship with Lola and so we took advice from the factory on what might be available.

“We got wind of the Dickens car almost straight away, and a week later Dudley and John Ingram Snr. were in Sweden looking at the car. The car had an excellent pedigree and was clearly very well prepared. A week later the deal had been done.

“The B2K/40 was initially quicker than the drivers, we weren’t even really getting heat into the brakes – we hadn’t really scratched the surface. It takes a while to get used to the performance envelope and we had no time at all to test before getting straight into a race programme. I never even saw the car before the Nurburgring, but we were delighted with our podium there." (Tracsport grabbing third after the exclusion of the WR)

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“At Silverstone we looked competitive too (fifth place in class, but it was looking better than that until the last half hour) and at Spa, John Ingram put in a fantastic performance when Dudley unleashed him to outrun the #99 Pilbeam (fourth place in LMP2 the final reward).

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"Realistically with the huge power advantage of the Courages against our 3 litre Nissan, we were always going to have to rely on reliability. The C65s really impressed though with their reliability too.

“We exceeded our own expectations in every way. We’ve run three six hour races in a car which none of us had prior experience of and we’ve had no accidents, no botched pitstops and no major reliability worries either.”

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Ultimately the Tracsport reliability hand was trumped by the pace of the new Courage C65s and by the consistent four race record of the Bruneau Pilbeam. A much prized guaranteed entry to the Le Mans 24 hours was not therefore assured but “we’ll be putting in an entry in any case and we’ll have our fingers crossed and hope we’ve done enough to catch the eye of the organisers.

“I’d love to do it again and of course if we do make it into the 24 hours that will make it far easier to interest sponsors, but with or without me the team will be back in the LMES in 2005 and they’re keen to stay all-British.”

Whether that will be with the B2K/40 remains to be seen.

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